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Citation and Style Guides: Plagiarism

A quick guide to common citation styles.

Defining Fair Use

Under the “fair use” rule of copyright law, an author may make limited use of another author’s work without asking permission. However, “fair use” is open to interpretation. Fair use is intended to support teaching, research, and scholarship, but educational purpose alone does not make every use of a work fair. It is always important to analyze how you are going use a particular work against the following four factors of fair use.

  1. What is your purpose in using the material? Are you going to use the material for monetary gain or for education or research purposes?
  2. What is the characteristic nature of work – is it fact or fiction; has it been published or not?
  3. How much of the work are you going to use? Small amount or large? Is it the significant or central part of the work?
  4. How will your use of the work effect the author’s or the publisher’s ability to sell the material? If your purpose is for research or education, your effect on the market value may be difficult to prove. However, if your purpose is commercial gain, then you are not following fair use.

U.S. Copyright Office provides a fact sheet

Fair Use Links

Defining Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

“To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source.”
plagiarism. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.Retrieved August 10, 2010, from

When should you cite your sources?

  1. If you directly quote a source
  2. If you paraphrase ideas from another person's work
  3. If you summarize ideas from another person's work

Types of plagiarism


  • Mixing words or ideas from an unacknowledged source in with your own words or ideas.
  • Mixing together uncited words and ideas from several sources into a single work.
  • Mixing together properly cited uses of a source with uncited uses.

Direct Plagiarism

  • A phrase or passage that is copied word for word, but not quoted.


  • Rephrasing another person’s work and inserting into your own work without acknowledging the original source.

Insufficient Acknowledgement

  • Half crediting source; whereby you acknowledge the author’s work the first time, but continue to use the author’s words without giving additional attribution.

Academic Honesty

From A&S - Students and Teachers Working Together:

Academic honesty is expected, and dishonesty will not be tolerated and can lead to expulsion from the College and the University. 




1.       It is expected that the academic work the students perform for their courses will be their own work

2.       If students are unsure of acceptable practices, such as how to handle cooperative work with other students, they should inquire of the teacher.

3.       If the policy regarding educational aids is not specified, students should assume that no aids are permitted on exams.

4.       Students should neither receive nor give unauthorized assistance on any assignment, exam, paper, or project.

5.       All quotes and ideas from other sources should be properly attributed.

1.       Teachers should make clear their policies on matters of:


·cooperative work with other students.

·educational aids such as calculators and note sheets.

2.       Teachers are expected to report suspected violations of academic dishonesty policies to the appropriate authority.

Defining Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to authors.

The owner of copyright has the exclusive right to do and authorize the following:

  • To reproduce the work;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To prohibit other persons from using the work without permission;
  • To perform the work publicly.

Copyright protection covers both published and unpublished works as well as out-of-print materials. 

Facts, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, concepts, principles or discoveries cannot be copyrighted.  However, some of these can be protected by patent or trade secret laws.

Copyright protection currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.  If there is more than one author copyright protection lasts for the life of the last author's death plus 70 years.  Copyright protection for materials created by a business may last for 95 years from publication.  

Click on Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States for more information. The Digital Slider is also a useful tool to assess copyrighted materials that are now in public domain.